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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 28, 2008 12:52 PM. The previous post in this blog was Welcome to Fresh Week. The next post in this blog is St. Tropez it ain't. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Monday, July 28, 2008

Who's minding the store? No one

Today all the media jump on one of the big downsides of the City of Portland's much-touted "public-private partnerships": Nobody on the "public" side is keeping any sort of watch over the "private" side to see that they're living up to their end of the "partnership" agreement. Even if the handouts to the real estate sharpies are for a good purpose (usually a dubious proposition), no one in government knows or cares whether the taxpayers are being swindled. Nick "the Sardine" Fish says he's going to jump in and start up some sort of accountability, millions of dollars later. Coverage is here, here, and here.

Comments (15)

All I have to say is - How long have we been giving these breaks before we decided to finally audit them?

"Real" audits (that is, ones that include looking at the actual performance that is purchased for the money spent and not just counting how many paperclips someone used) are not done very frequently, either in Portland or at the State level. I shudder to think what a federal government audit would uncover.

I'm a little surprised that this criticism came to light and it will be very interesting to see if anything is done about it. By that I mean: if the people that took the money to create low-income housing are punished for not doing so. What would be the punishment, for instance, if someone had embezzled this money? Not much different then what happened.

Why would anyone try to get out of paying property taxes, obviously there is no need to audit the abatements. ;)

I wouldn't be surprised if people paid someone else to buy the property to make it qualify for the abatement originally, knowing that nobody was coming back to check and see if the property was being re-sold to someone that doesn't qualify for it.

I have noticed just recently that some real estate adds that mention abatement, have little print that says "for qualifying buyers".

What is wrong with the world around here?

Obvioulsy these programs never get performance audits.

"Nobody on the "public" side is keeping any sort of watch over the "private" side"

Ok,, but nobody on the "public" side is keeping any sort of watch over the "public" side either.

Not PDC Commissioners, city commissioners or Urban Renewal (citizen) Advisory Committees ever see a ledger of spending in UR districts.

I've got to believe the public-private partnerships cost us a whole lot more in fraud, and tax avoidance, than the $8.5 million reported in the Portland Tribune. It's not much of a story if it actually is only $10 million or less. My preference would be to shut down cityhall, and have a police and fire chief, water bureau chief, and a court of grievances run the city instead. I would feel a lot less harassed than currently, by a cityhall always bent on inventing a new tax (like plastic and paper tax) and justifying it in the name of some social cause or experiment. Nick "the sardine" vows to become Nick "the sword" Fish?

Bob Clark: My preference would be to shut down cityhall, and have a police and fire chief, water bureau chief, and a court of grievances run the city instead.
JK: I have also been thinking that this might be a good idea. Does any city of Portland’s size do this?

Imagine voting for a head of PDOT that promises more bike paths, bubble curbs and streetcars creating congestion.

The monetary loss, in forgiven property taxes, the last time I looked (2003) was around $27 million annually for the abatements. This does not count the low interest loans, undermarket value property sales and fee wavers.

The big loss is in the urban renewal districts close to $75 million annually. I have posted this info at

You can find a list of developer bennies starting at:


It has been suggested here before . . . one can only imagine what an audit would dig up. If these developers are getting a sweet deal (tax breaks for "good deeds") even sweeter (who cares whether the "good deeds" are ever completed), I wonder who gets a kickback or handout for looking the other way?

This is the part that I find disgusting:

"Rents are advertised anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 a month but JP Morgan does not pay any taxes on its $60 million building. That's nearly $638,000 in lost taxes...

"Take the case of the Louisa - the 246-unit building was approved in 2003 but to date, auditors say the Portland Development Commission (PDC) has not received documentation that shows at least 24 of the apartments meet affordable housing standards.

"Auditors, in fact, discovered no apartments at the Louisa were affordable to families below the median income level."

They rent 246 units at rates between $1-4K. The building is worth $60 million. And they pay no taxes because they make 24 units out of the 246 "affordable" for those under the median income level?

And from I read about this, I have a hard time believing they really have units that are "affordable" unless they're renting below their stated prices.

I notice that PDC's developers' "perks" page has been recently amended:

New Multiple-unit Housing (NMUH)/Central City Property Tax Abatement
NOTE: This abatement program is currently inactive.
The City’s multifamily tax abatement programs are under review. The goal of this review is to provide the City Council and Planning Commission with recommendations for program changes that respond to the concerns expressed by the City Council.

Jack, as you know, this lack of performance auditing on affordable housing has been mentioned for several years back on your blog and sometimes in oblique ways in the media. It would be interesting for someone to post all the mentions of this issue and how the questions have been ignored by CoP, PDC for years.

It will show that some property owners, developers. politicians and subsequent buyers/renters have been involved in fraud.

Jenni Simonis: "Rents are advertised anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 a month but JP Morgan does not pay any taxes on its $60 million building. That's nearly $638,000 in lost taxes...
They rent 246 units at rates between $1-4K. The building is worth $60 million. And they pay no taxes because they make 24 units out of the 246 "affordable" for those under the median income level?
JK: Even worse: $638k / 24 units = $26,500 /yr or $2200 / mo - twice what the rent is on the lowest priced unit. What a sweet deal get a $2200 tax break for lowering the rent on a $1000/mo unit!!


I recognize activist Jenni's name and these are the results of people Jenni loves to elect. Like so many other Portlanders who somehow got the idea long ago that electing unqualified candidates simply because they are supper liberal would be OK.

Like so many other Portlanders who somehow got the idea long ago that electing unqualified candidates simply because they are supper liberal would be OK

I agree wholeheartedly but feel that only Leonard may be a "supper liberal". The rest probably wouldn't be familiar with the term - Adams, least of all.

Another well known fact how developers, owners and politicians misuse affordable housing tax abatements is that most often the ground and second story of buildings are the least rentable, saleable because of congestion, noise, etc. of the these floors. If condos, they have the least return. So they are "offered" to achieve all the tax abatements, subsidies that one can get.

And many times the costs of these floors are inflated in costs, or expenses are attributed to these floors that are not justified to jury-rig the cost basis.

Additionally, because they are "affordable housing units" parking for each unit is reduced or non-existent, thus the total parking costs of the project is reduced.

Then there is the aspect that being a benevolent developer, the CoP politicians and planners love you more and are eager to reduce other fees like SDC, building permit charges, etc. Plus, your next project goes through because you are a "partner" with the city and meet their agenda.


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
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Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
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Conundrum, White 2013
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The Occasional Book

Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 113
At this date last year: 155
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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